Barrett and Gorsuch Have to Choose Between Originalism and Expanding Gun Rights

Barrett and Gorsuch Have to Choose Between Originalism and Expanding Gun Rights

To stick to purported originalist principles, or not. The decision this week of the Supreme Court to hear its first major Second Amendment case in more than a decade is momentous in many ways. Scholars and jurists have been clamoring for years for the court to clarify its landmark, but opaque 2008 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller . The core holding in Heller has not been much disputed in the intervening years. According to Heller , the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to have a functional handgun in the home for reasons of self-protection. What has not been clear in the 13 years since the decision was rendered is how far outside of the home Heller’s individual rights view of the Amendment extends. In the case now before it, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett , the court will have to offer a concrete answer to this question. What is the scope of the Second Amendment right to bear arms outside of the home? The case will also force two of the court’s newest justices to choose between Heller’s precedent of extending gun rights and the purported originalist methodology put forth in the ruling. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett have each staked out strong originalist views. Both jurists insist that their approach is not reflective of ideology, but instead a rigorous methodology. Moreover, both justices have argued that when their preferred methodology yields conclusions that are not politically congenial to them, […]

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